As we shared our personal reviews of the amazing, tongue-in-cheek Primus show we had just witnessed, our Chicago nativity came to light. Once I informed our cab buddies that we were going to watch the Rockies play the Brewers the following night, sports talk consumed the rest of our trip.
"I've never hated the Rockies," I said, "so it'll be easy to root for them, especially since they're playing the Brewers."
"How could you hate the Rockies?" the one next to me in the back seat asked. "They're like the little [puppies] of MLB. At least you guys have real teams in Chicago."
While the White Sox season could still turn out to be an enjoyable one for Sox fans, this comment bludgeoned me in the face with surprise. "Real teams?" I thought. Interesting...
"Real teams that suck!" I responded. I then revealed my secret identity as a Cub fan, explaining that the White Sox up and down success this year, and their '05 Championship, did little to alleviate my suicidal baseball tendencies.
"If you take away the Sox '05 World Series, we've collectively had around 200 years of crap for baseball. At least the Rockies are young and exciting" I said.
This is probably like a Cub fan hearing someone attempt to soothe them with the amount of fans that go to Wrigley; it does nothing to make you feel better about your team. Instead, you end up angry about a whole new set of problems.
The cab filled with silence for a second. I like to think we were all conjuring up ways to demolish our respective loved baseball teams. Then, the tides shifted.
"Yeah, but you guys stole Cutler from us," my backseat friend stated.
Uncontrollable laughter rolled out of my mouth from the bottom of my belly, "yeah... we did," I said as I smiled back at him.
Then, quickly, there was movement from the front seat. His friend in the passenger seat turned around, with a Jack Nicholson-type anger and strain controlling his face.
"And now we're stuck with Christian boy Tebow and nobody else!"
For the next five miles or so, the two chattered back and forth, throwing about phrases like "Josh McDaniels is a moron and has no idea what he's doing," "We've lost all of our good players" (referencing Brandon Marshall and Cutler among others), and, my personal favorite, "We are going to suck."
I felt dangerous vibrations growing in the cab as we drove through the Colorado night. My blind love for Cutler is a dangerous concoction with booze in the belly, and it was obvious that these fans were already slipping into an unstable sports rant controlled by drunkenness and near exhaustion.
"Well, we're stuck with Martz calling up interceptions for Cutler all year if it makes you feel any better... Not to mention that we have to watch Lovie's "top of the league" defense stumble and get burned for another 16 games again."
"Yeah, but you've got Cutler. He'll probably win you a few games by himself."
I couldn't argue with that. If Cutler can win two to three games essentially by himself, maybe he'll be good enough in the other games that if the rest of the team steps up, the Bears might sneak into the playoffs. Maybe.
"I certainly hope you're right sir. That's about all we (Bears fans) have to hope for." I thought about that for a minute.
"That and Julius Peppers instantly making our defensive line better... along with improving the secondary, offensive line, receivers and coaches too. Peppers has a lot of work ahead of him."
"The Bears suck!" Sam added from my right. She had been mostly quiet during this jumpy conversation and decided to throw in some good ol' fashioned Chicago optimism to the conversation- thanks sweetheart!
The Denver-native to my left depressingly muttered something about "Anything is better than having Tebow, Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn." Once again, I felt incredibly lucky to at least have a legitimate quarterback on the Bears; they may suck again, but at least we have someone who can throw the ball.
We all then agreed that, at best, Orton can help you not lose a game.
"He won't win you any by himself," I proclaimed, "but he might not be the reason you lose. That's the best you can hope for with him."
"Yeah, and now we have to worry about Tebow and Quinn on top of Orton," one of them offered. They looked defeated.
When I informed our new-found friends that people in Chicago lamented the Orton-Cutler trade all of last year, and likely will not let that ridiculous comparison go this year either, I was met with the exhausted, sloppy, concert-ridden faces the two had displayed as they had initially walked up to the cab. At this point, we reached our hotel and bid farewell and good luck to our companions.
I learned a few things during this hazy cab ride; some surprising and some not. While this is an extremely small sample size, and even then, only for Denver, it was soothing to confirm a few football viewpoints, while interesting to uncover some baseball thoughts. Consider some of these points, Chicago fans, whenever you lament for any of our teams:
- For some reason, the Cubs and Sox seem to garnish admiration outside of Chicago. Is it because of the large market or lengthy history? That would seem to be the case, considering Chicago history is not speckled with Championships. This surprised me, especially in Denver where the Rockies are still in contention for a playoff spot, and have legitimate young players like Ubaldo Jimenez and Troy Tulowitzki among others. Weird.
- Every NFL wants a quarterback. You may not love Cutler in a Bear uniform, but that's only because Kyle Orton isn't anymore. Bears fans always need something to whine about. With Cutler throwing, we can bitch about interceptions along with our terrible O-line and receivers, but with Orton we were always stuck wondering what a good quarterback would be able to do. Don't hate Cutler; hate that he makes the Bears' other weaknesses more obvious than Orton ever could.
- There is no rational Tim Tebow love in the nation. Anyone truly excited about him appears to be more excited in him as a person, or a Christian, not as a NFL quarterback. I realize he has not thrown any passes in a regular season NFL game yet, so he may succeed to a certain extent. However, oodles of rich NFL minds have stressed concern over the draft pick, and many thought the Broncos drafting him in the first round was way too early for someone who has not QB'ed in an NFL-style offense and who may not be able to play the position at all at the NFL level. Only time will tell, but I expected Denver to be all shook up in Tebow anticipation. It was refreshing to know that Denver has sports fans who think for themselves.
- If Denver's fans can show that they have brains by using them and sharing their thoughtful opinions, then hope is not lost for those of us seeking logic in Chicago sports minds. While I still must question their admiration of our baseball teams, these Denver cab-buddies of ours displayed a football logic that indeed is rare among fans in this area. If these fans, bittered by the Cutler trade, can still look at the Bears objectively and offer rational insight on the team's situation, then eventually even Bear fans should be able to do the same.
This was a long and fuzzy cab ride. Considering this, I'm sure I have left out some of the key components of the conversation which made it so enjoyable or insightful. In the end, Chicago, all I can request is that before we ridicule the wrong components of our beloved teams, consider how things used to be, and how fans from other cities may view our teams' situations. Are things really as bad as we say or think? If the subject is the Cubs, then yes. Otherwise; take a step back and maybe things are not so terrible.
On a side note, for anyone who enjoys live music, I urge you to take a trip to Colorado's literally awesome Red Rock Amphitheater and soak some in for yourself. This may be the single best venue to see any concert in the entire nation. If you ever make it out there, grab a cab on the way home and find some natives to split it with. They may make you feel better about being a Chicago sports fan.
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Tags: Brady Quinn, Cab, Cab Ride, Chicago Bears, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Colorado Rockies, Denver, Denver Broncos, Jay Cutler, Josh McDaniels, Julius Peppers, Kyle Orton, Mike Martz, Milwaukee Brewers, Primus, Red Rock Amphitheater, Tim Tebow, TroyTulowitzki, Ubaldo Jiminez